TODAY: Her daughter swallowed a water bead. Now, this mom is on a mission to warn other parents
By Meghan Holohan
When Ashley Haugen’s baby woke up one evening projectile vomiting, she rushed her 10-month-old to the emergency room. Doctors couldn’t understand what made Kipley so sick: All the tests and scans came back as inconclusive, so as a last resort, they recommended surgery.
Afterward, the doctor showed the family an image of what he found lodged in the girl’s intestines.
“We recognized it immediately as a birthday gift,” Haugen, 32, of San Antonio, Texas, tells TODAY.com.
That gift was water beads, small gel-filled balls used as sensory toys, for décor or in plants or gardens. When wet, they expand. The family purchased the water beads for their 6-year-old daughter, Abigail, and only allowed her to use them under adult supervision. Somehow Kipley got her hands on some and ate them.
Kipley recovered in the hospital for about a week. After returning home, her mom says, she started behaving differently.
In October 2017, a developmental pediatrician diagnosed Kipley with toxic brain encephalopathy caused by acrylamide monomer poisoning.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acrylamides impact the reproductive and nervous system, mostly, causing “muscle weakness, numbness in hands and feet, sweating, unsteadiness, and clumsiness.”
“There aren’t a lot of papers describing the effects of acrylamide monomer exposure in kids,” Dr. Elizabeth Friedman, the medical director of environmental Health at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City and co-director of the Mid-America Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, tells TODAY.com. “We know that acrylamide is a poison. And there’s not a lot of research and information about what that looks like.”
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